The Forever Journey

. . . seemed like an appropriate title.  It seems my life—your life—is a never-ending journey.  One that takes a forever yet can be over in a blink.

On this end, mom-care visits are still happening.  Too much mental/emotional baggage is still holding me back from truly embarking on my life, one free of obligation and guilt.  But that’s another story.

This post is about my current trek within that forever journey.  I’d made a recent/quick decision to take control over a [tiny] part of my life . . . but it’s one I’m certainly now questioning, because it’s proven so very overwhelming.

After many (many!) years of not having fixed up the place, I decided to have the floors stripped and re-varnished, and the walls painted.  Cost aside (I’m questioning that, too, because I’m not earning a VP’s salary—heck, I’m not even earning a VP’s EA’s salary), I sucked it up and went for it.

Wow, who knew there’d be so much work involved?  Who’d have imagined that moving all the furniture would prove that difficult?!  Obviously, not me!  Who knew you’d have to spend three nights away (I kind of figured one, but three)?  Who realized local hotels cost $300+ a night?  Not me, and ouch.  So, I went for a “boutique hotel”, more of a B&B really . . . but . . . yeah . . . you get what you pay for.  <eye roll and sniffle>

manor11aAfter beating myself up (yet again), I decided to focus on the positive aspects.  I’d had enough semblance of thought to bring Lysol.  This was/is good.  There was a functional TV.  This helped divert attention—if you like watching news channels all night long.  One that made me stop wanting to smack myself repeatedly in the head: at least the shower was amazing.  It was clean, roomy with a seat, and the water was instantly and wonderfully hot.

The day this is posted is the day I will have returned home to new floors.  Won’t have moved what’s left of the furniture back though.  Have to wait another day.  Then the painting fellow arrives Sunday morning.  Hopefully, that project won’t take too, too long (and I’m not going anywhere, if I have to sleep on the balcony wrapped in multiple tarps).

Maybe, just maybe, come the next post, I’ll have managed to move all the stuff that’s crammed into the bathtub and shower, and jammed into the small bedroom closet—an open-the-door comedy-show explosion in the making.

I’m sure, one day, I will laugh—or at least snicker—at this current, crazy, but not-brief-enough trek.  Maybe while I’m sitting admiring the new floors and walls, and thinking, yeah, it was worth it.  <eye roll and sniffle>

Third Time’s the Charm

So the saying goes.  Doesn’t really apply to this post, but it is the third time I’m posting about Hawaii.

There’s another snowstorm blowing white flakes past the icy window, as it did the week before, and the week before that.  While it’s pretty and peaceful, it has me dreaming of other white stuff: sand.  Like that soft, silky powder found on Oahu beaches.  Those trodden by thousands of tourists’ feet in an endeavor to catch rays, leap into sapphire waters, and/or get some serious down time before returning to the world of work and worries.

My eating habits are predictable here.  Same stuff day in, day out.  The weekly (yawn-inducing) menu rarely varies.  When I’m visiting my Hawaiian “home”, I tend to be more adventuresome.  I love trying new foods, and always do.

1garlickaluapigpizzaThe last trip, however, had me hooked on a different version of my favorite food: pizza.  Garlic-kalua-pig.  Holy moley, was it good!  So good, I pretty much ate it every other day.

But I did have my veggies.  And my salads.  And my “international” delights.

Then, came the treats—the shave ice, traditional versus “fancy”.  And something I hadn’t had since being a kid (they’ve been hard to find here over the years, but are easily obtained in Hawaii) … those delightful, nummy-sweet Hostess cupcakes.  Heaven!  Like, can you spell y-u-m-m-m-m?


I had one of the must-have drinks—a Mai Tai—of course.  You know, it didn’t really appeal to me, but it sure looked pretty, especially sitting under a palm by the beach.

1maitai   Cheers to more trips and warmer days!

Still Reminiscing

house gecko1Another wintery storm blew in last night and is lingering this morning.  The white fluff sure looks pretty.  Too bad it’ll turn to gray slush.

blueheron1I’d say you’d never see this kind of weather in Hawaii, but I’d be lying.  They get snow, too, especially on Big Island, which has eight climate zones (including “polar tundra”).

parrots1Last week, I shared some touristy shots, this week I thought I’d share some of the lovely birds and lizards I so enjoy seeing. 

greenlizard1That’s it, that’s all, my friends.  A simple post with simple pics.

madlizard1Enjoy your weekend and for those of you living in these northern climes, stay warm and safe!

A Distant Dream . . . ?

1SatX2plus1 (1)It’s already been over four months since I got to visit Hawaii again.  It seems like a distant delicious dream.

Sometimes, you have to wonder if taking a trip and $pending the money for it is worth it.  You get there, de-stress for 10 or 14 days, or whatever, then you head back home—and the stress returns.  Threefold.  (I wasn’t even off the plane and there was an “urgent” message from my mother’s long-term-care home, which did not turn out to be urgent.  Needless to say, however, the BP had shot through the roof and I was triple stressed by the time I stepped out of the airport limo.)

1Sat6BI decided to take a look at my photos.  Yup, I was there.  It wasn’t a dream!  Yeah, now I remember.  It was hot and humid . . . and heavenly.

And how I wish I were back there again, de$pite the co$t!

The shots I’m sharing are typical, touristy ones, but they’re pretty good (I’m not a bad photographer, if I do say so myself).

1Sat7B1SatBPerhaps they’ll take you to a another realm—if only for a moment.  Away from the icy / snow-blanketed / frigid / foggy / cold / gray / bleak / wet / damp / lifeless place you may currently be residing in.  And if you’re fortunate to be living in Hawaii and similar climes, count your blessings.  😊

1Sat2BMe, I’m going to dream of warmer, brighter times . . . they’re just around the bend (I’m keepin’ the faith).

N = 1/2

N as in one-half the size of M . . . as in the em- and en-dash.

Last week, we reviewed the main reasons for using the em-dash.  It only seems fair to give the en-dash its due too.

The en-dash is the length of the letter “N” (the em-dash the length of the letter “M”).  It’s used to signify date or number ranges .

The findings represented data collected 1999–2003.

“Please read pages 493–567.”

The director expected 35–45 employees to attend the after-hours meeting.

It can convey “to” or “and”.

Lee took the Kingston–Ottawa bus.

The HR–IT session was well attended.

Use it in place of the word “versus”.

The gang went to the local bar to catch the Leafs–Senators game on the huge wall screen.

The Brady–Cleaver match was scheduled for nine that evening.

An en-dash can be used for scores or votes.

The college football game’s final score was 20–17.

Even though the votes were not all in, the governor insisted she had won: 29929–29833.

Use it for those lovely grammatical devices called complex compound adjectives.

The effects of the medication were long-lasting.

Marjorie, a part-time employee, was considered kind-hearted by fellow team members.

Hmm, there’s a thought for a future post: compound adjectives.

. . . But maybe I’ll just aim for something more fun (if not frivolous) next week.  😉


Actually, that’s em and em . . . not quite as delightful as M&Ms, those nummy little globular treats (I’m partial to the Minis myself).  😊

Time for another grammar/punctuation post—just a wee one, kinda like my Minis.

I thought I’d do a two-parter, the first being about em dashes and em spaces and the second about en dashes and en spaces.  Yeah, kind of a snoozy topic, but worth reviewing for us writers . . . since a few of us don’t necessarily use either correctly.  😊

“Em”, in a nutshell, refers to the width of the space—the same typographical width as a lowercase “m” character.  Typographical, by the by, is simply a fancy word for the arrangement/appearance of printed matter.

But while we’re [sort of] on the topic of typography—for those that might be remotely interested—the em space is utilized as a basic unit of measure for websites.  The default font size is set to ems; fonts on the page that are larger/smaller are delegated as multiples or fractions of said ems.  They can be used to create optical adjustments between elements or to avoid recurring spaces.  Put another way, to avoid hitting the spacebar several times to move a word or character, you can use an em space (with an appropriately sized scale) to literally shove the word (or sentence) farther along that line without repetitively pressing that spacebar.  Yeah, a bit of a mouthful . . . and earful.

The em dash has different punctuation functions.  When used like a comma, you can offer extra information (examples, details, explanations).  Used like a colon, you can provide explanatory clauses or descriptions.  The em dash can serve the same purpose as parenthesis, or brackets: to add additional facts or list items/details.

In Q3, the comestibles company—given it had just merged with a wine company—would be increasing its workforce and hours of operation.

The wide range of craft beers on the counter—ale, lager, stout, pilsner, and porter—brought smiles to the overheated guests upon stepping onto the pergola.

Hudson’s boutique officially opened on Friday and offered a vast selection of hats—fedoras, Panamas, trilbies, bonnets, caps, and bowlers.

Is spacing used with em dashes?  Not with books or journals.  Yes, with newspapers and magazines, and some websites (it depends on their practice).

An em dash (again, one em or “M” wide,) is used to communicate changes—sudden disruptions in thoughts or a [quick/unexpected] switch from one speaker/character to another.

As they stepped inside, Jerry looked around the dimly lit cabin with trepidation, but his best friend Arthur—he was excited.

“If you’d told me Marty was coming—”

“Hey! I had no idea he was coming,” Lee interrupted angrily.

There are other uses for the em dash, but these should do for now.  Too much information is—well—too much.  😉

As I often say, if you’re truly interested in learning more, the internet offers no shortage of information—rules and guidelines abound!

The Art of Self-Promotion

. . . is a true art . . . one I really really need to learn.

Of course, for me, it’s always a time factor.  And I’ve relayed the reasons too many [annoying] times.  😉  If I could have one full free day—heck, I’d settle for a free [full] afternoon—I might be able to do something.  But I’m constantly pulled in too many directions for too many reasons.  And I’m sure many of you are in the same boat, so you get it.

One thing I’m looking to do is a promotional trailer for the series.  I saw one recently by fellow author Janeen Ann O’Connell that had me envious; I’d love to see JJ, Rey, and Linda—the pretty private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—“advertise”.

I’m sure Janeen won’t mind me sharing—have a look:

Cool, huh?  She did it through Flexclip ( and I took a quick gander at the site.  I like what I see, and I’m going to give it a go . . . I think, I hope, I think.

I have to confess, I get nervous re signing up for something.  Guess it’s an age thang.  Dang.

I’ll have to review it more and then, inevitably, for a few weeks I’ll go through the should-I-do-it-or-not hem-and-haw routine.  I suppose it’s the “fine print” that always worries me.  Am I going to be hit up for [serious] money?  The site says the free version of FlexClip is “free and voluntary, but you may be required to register and create an account . . . “.  But then they mention you may have to provide contact number, email address, and “other details”.  I suppose it’s par for the course with any site that you create an account on . . . but this ol’ gal, well, is an ol’ gal.  She leans towards leery—of anything.  <LOL>

Janeen spoke highly of FlexClip and her trailer cost her . . . $0.  So, once the hemming-and-hawing biz is over and done with, I’ll likely take a [real] deep breath and go for it.

On another promotional note, there are two more items available for The Connecticut Corpse Caper (Triple Threat Mysteries Book 1).

♥  A Matte Poster

♥  Playing Cards (Book Cover-Based)

Here’s to more goodies coming our way.  😉  The gals and I wish you an awesome week!

A Self-Promotional Post

Of sorts.  . . . Well, maybe more than that.  😉

Earlier in the week, I posted this on FB:

Surprise—to me!  My first book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency mystery series, The Connecticut Corpse Caper (Triple Threat Mysteries Book 1), has been made into . . . wow . . .  a 1000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle (cover-based).  What fun.

And there’s a coffee mug, too!

Mid-week, I discovered there were two more items available: a natural tote bag and a unisex T-shirt.

How exciting!  They’re all a little out of my price league <LMAO>, but I may purchase a few items when the opportunity to do a promotion re the Triple Threat Investigation Agency presents itself.

I suspect that may take place, hmm, sometime in summer.  I’d like to have Disco’s Dead and so is Mo-Mo be part of that.

I’m still working on Mo-Mo, but I am getting there.  I know who the killer is (finally) and the pretty private eyes are in the midst of figuring it out.  I’ve given myself a deadline: the book must be completed by February 28th (this year)!!!  😊

The Connecticut Corpse Caper was meant to be a standalone, but the trio were determined to become professional P.I.s and were not taking no for an answer.  I had to accommodate.  If you’re curious as to how it all began, with multiple murders in a haunted mansion during a winter storm, please check it out.  We’d love it if you did.


Come on!  Who doesn’t love the comma?  It’s a writer’s friend—as is most punctuation.  Embrace it.  Bring it on.  Use it.  😉

Seeing as punctuation often appears to be an issue with dialogue and dialogue tags—and we covered dialogue-punctuation basics in last week’s post—it seemed a worthwhile endeavor to review punctuation in general.  (And how’s that for a lo-ong sentence?)

Let’s look at the common ones: the comma, period, semicolon, colon.

The comma has sometimes been used in the strangest places/circumstances, at random, and in multitude.  We love the comma, but not when utilized haphazardly and/or en masse.  While there may be additional reasons to employ it, here are the more commonplace.

Use it to denote a break between clauses with a sentence—like a pause—and to separate sentences clauses (such as when providing additional details about something or someone).

    • Leo’s flat, located on a quiet park overlooking the Thames, was costly.
    • “That’s not to say, however, that MacInsey is correct in assuming Walters is the informant.”

Use commas when you’re listing things or providing several adjectives.

    • Thomas tried on two pairs of pants, three blazers, two pullovers, and four vests.
    • He eyed the tall newcomer surreptitiously. He was middle-aged, well-dressed, attractive, and shifty-eyed.  

We could also use a semicolon.

    • He eyed the tall newcomer surreptitiously; he was middle-aged, well-dressed, attractive, and shifty-eyed.  

Use a comma after an introductory phrase, clause, or word at the beginning of a sentence.

    • Today, I’ll have pastrami and Swiss on rye.
    • Later that night, the thieves crept into the empty warehouse.
    • If you’re going to stay home alone, make sure to turn on the alarm.

I’m hesitant to use grammar expressions (they can prove confusing if not overwhelming), but use a comma after <wince> a conjunctive adverb.

    • “Moreover, I dare you to find one bit of incriminating evidence, you pompous twit!”
    • Henceforth, the matter was closed.

And, when you address someone, yes, use a comma.

    • Bernie, will you be attending the party?
    • “Mom, I need a lift to work!”

The period is used to end sentences—save for those that are questions or exclamations.

    • We hastened across the field.
    • Jen and Len ran through the puddles, shrieking and laughing.

Use one to end a statement or a request/command.

    • To each their own.
    • Make sure to sign the contract before you leave.

And use a period, not a question mark, if the question is implied.

    • The manager asked her staff if they would be willing to attend the meeting on Saturday.

The semicolon can prove daunting for some.  It’s used like a period and a comma combined, if that makes sense.  It creates a full stop, like a period, yet connects independent clauses.

    • Jenny saw the man enter the restaurant; he looked angry, even defiant.
    • He decided to run along the pre-dawn beach; it was cool and breezy.

Use it instead of a conjunction (and, but).

    • Larry sank onto the patio chair; he leaned back, exhausted.
    • It was a dark, cloudless sky; no stars could be seen.

The semicolon can be used with a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase (yeah, those grammar-related phrases are headache-inducing, aren’t they?).

    • The students were asked to collect specimens for the project; however, three of them decided to take photos instead.
    • The brothers drank beers the entire evening; consequently, neither thought they should drive the sedan back home.

It’s also used to separate things in a list that have commas.  Not my favorite “device”, and I’d never employ it, but here you go . . .

    • After graduation, Mark and Lee toured Berlin, Germany; Zurich, Switzerland; and Rome, Italy.
    • Upon winning the lottery, Sally bought a case of champagne; ate caviar and scallops by the pound; and ordered a huge triple-chocolate cake.

Lastly, we come to the colon.  It assists in introducing new information, to show that something will follow—a quote, list, or example.

    • Jason grabbed a piece of paper and jotted down the names, lest he forget: Jackson, Marty, Fiona, Frederick, Lenora.
    • I must remember to buy the following: eggs, orange juice, milk, and sugar.

You can use it before a noun or noun phrase or adjective.

    • The book was everything I thought it would be: boring, long, and cliché.
    • The trek through the mountains provided everything the tour guide promised: vistas, excitement, and exercise.

I believe I’ve provided enough . . . for now, at least.  I don’t want you nodding off or rolling your eyes.  😉  If you’re looking for a more intensive list of “rules” re the aforementioned, the internet is your best friend.

Tag, You’re It!

A fun game, but we’re not referring to it, we’re talking about the dialogue tag (and related punctuation).

Given what I’ve seen in my editing travels, dialogue writing seems to prove a bit tricky.  Because it never hurts to review—or learn something new—let’s look at a few examples.

“You’re a loser.” She said.

“That’s not the murder weapon.” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

“Why would I do that” he simpered.

“I’m not the killer!” And she pointed. “Marcus De Teuer is!”

“Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night” He pointed out.

“It’s not like he …”

“Don’t be silly,” Jenkins interrupted the officer.

“It’s Welland,” which was the intern’s real name.

“We normally check for fingerprints,” Pat queried.

“Frank, it could be that the knife sticking from the bartender’s temple is the murder weapon,” Ronald wondered.

“Hmm, it’s possible …” Jenny trailed off.

Which ones are correct?

Right, none.  😊  Now, some might claim literary license, and that’s fine.  But they’re still wrong.

Let’s consider what we can do to correct them, without going into eye-glazing grammar explanations (you can always google the “rules” and check out the various grammar manuals).

“You’re a loser.” She said.

“That’s not the murder weapon.” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

Dialogue tags are usually punctuated with a comma—unless the dialogue (speech) is interrupted.  Other punctuation would include the question mark, full stop, and explanation mark.  Ellipsis can be used to express a pause, a trailing off of thought.  But the comma is the more common.

“You’re a loser.” She said.

“You’re a loser,” she said.   /   She said, “You’re a loser.”

“That’s not the murder weapon.” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

“That’s not the murder weapon,” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

If we use an exclamation point or question mark for this example, we might want to change the verb “said” to reflect the punctuation.

“That’s not the murder weapon!” Detective Leo exclaimed with a fervent shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

“That’s not the murder weapon?” Detective Leo asked, confused, shaking his pumpkin-sized head.

The example for this one has no punctuation.  Given it’s a question, the ol’ question mark would be perfect.

“Why would I do that” he simpered.

“Why would I do that?” he simpered.

When dialogue is interrupted by an action or a thought, use em dashes to set off that interruption (don’t use commas).

“I’m not the killer!” And she pointed. “Marcus De Teuer is!”

“I’m not the killer”—she pointed—“Marcus De Teuer is!” 

Maybe we could add this:

“I’m not the killer”—she pointed an accusing finger dramatically—“Marcus De Teuer is!” 

Use a comma or rearrange this one.

“Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night” He pointed out.

“Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night,” he pointed out.   /   He pointed out that Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night.   /   He pointed out, “Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night.”

Never use ellipses for interruptions.  They’re used, as noted earlier, for pauses, trailing thoughts, a character not certain what to say next.  Use em dashes.

“It’s not like he …”

“Don’t be silly,” Jenkins interrupted the officer.

“It’s not like he—”

“Don’t be silly,” Jenkins interrupted the officer.

A bit awkward.  Who’s speaking?

“It’s Welland,” which was the intern’s real name.

Make sure information/facts are logically arranged (and not haphazardly tacked onto dialogue).

“It’s Welland,” the intern stated. “That’s my real name.”   /   The intern’s real name was Welland.   /   “It’s Welland,” the doctor told the detective.  “That’s the intern’s real name.”

The comma is fine here.  The verb, not so much.  Is it a question?  Did Pat query something?  No, Pat made a comment, stated a fact.

“We normally check for fingerprints,” Pat queried.

“We normally check for fingerprints,” Pat informed them.

If a character is wondering something, like good ol’ Ronald here, then he is asking himself a question or has a desire to know something.  It’s a silent action.  You talk to someone, suggest an idea, put forth a theory; you don’t wonder at someone.

“Frank, it could be that the knife sticking from the bartender’s temple is the murder weapon,” Ronald wondered.

If a character is wondering about something, you might approach it this way:

Ronald wondered if the knife sticking from the bartender’s temple was the murder weapon.  Should he share this idea with Frank?

The ellipsis tells the reader the character has paused or trailed off.  No need to state the obvious.

“Hmm, it’s possible …” Jenny trailed off.

But feel free to add something else of note.

“Hmm, it’s possible …” Curious, Jenny picked up the crumpled letter.

There are other components (rules) related to dialogue and dialogue tags, but these cover the more common issues to be found.

The best way to get a handle on writing dialogue is not just to read books, but to review them.  Highlight dialogue; notice the punctuation, the structure.  Apply it to your own work.  And, if you’re not sure, the internet is a wonderful source of information.  If you don’t know how to use an em dash, for example, type: when to use an em dash in dialogue.  Voila!  Bob’s your uncle.

As I said last week, if I can help even one person with my editing tips, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.  Educate.  😉  Maybe I’ll do some more educating next week.  It’s rather fun.

“Have an awesome week, my friends,” she said with an encouraging smile.

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